This Daily Promo – Marc Morrison

- - The Daily Promo

Marc Morrison

Who printed it?
Mike Stitt over at Agency Access. I have to say the reason I printed with AA is because of Mike. He is great to work with, creative, really knows his craft and best of all he is super easy to communicate with.

Who designed it?
Actually, it was me.

Tell me about the images?
My primary goal was to find images interesting enough to convince art buyers to open the envelope.

In looking over my recent body of work, I decided to make the entire promo about a particular project in Malaysia I recently shot during a corporate library campaign. By selecting all the images from the same body of work, maintaining continuity throughout the mailer was much easier to manage. I like to think of myself as a portrait photographer—but the portraits do not always have to be living beings. I try to bring a sort of portrait style to even inanimate objects.

I had a very difficult time editing through the images of people as the Malaysian crew were all so lovely to photograph and beyond gracious in their willingness to perform any task we asked. The crew was also beautifully dressed in bright yellow coveralls during their shift and colorful traditional baju melayu (Malay shirt) during their off hours.

Probably the most difficult task was selecting four images from a solid two weeks of shooting. It’s not that every photo was extraordinary, but there were enough nice ones to make it a challenge.

How many did you make?
We printed 500. 450 were sent to a very specifically-researched contact list created by our production manager, and 50 were reserved for handouts at portfolio reviews and client meetings. (I greatly underestimated the number for handouts however—live and learn.)

How many times a year do you send out promos?
My goal is to try and send out 4 promos per year—“try” is the key word here. I shoot a number of different subjects and have found it almost impossible to create a single promo that will appeal to the different types of markets in which I shoot. Working out an effective marketing plan to address this issue has been proving to be a bit of a challenge and still a work in progress.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I believe any positive opportunity for creatives to see a photographer’s work is an opportunity to take advantage of. Research up front to make certain your work is being sent to the proper creative outlets is key. On a personal note, this is my first promo showcasing the industrial side of my photography. Much to my delight, I received a commission from a new client shortly after mailing. I’m certain the job came about because it landed on the right desk at the right time. Luck and timing help—and I’ll take it! I cannot help but be cautiously optimistic about printed promos—besides I still love printed work.

This Week in Photography Books: Peggy Levison Nolan

 

Parenting isn’t glamourous.

That’s for sure.

I always knew I’d have kids, and given how much I relish being a Dad, I guess I had it right.

(I used the word “relish” here, because I don’t know if “enjoy” is quite right.)

I love my children more than anything, and would take a bullet for either of them, as I would for my wife.

No question.

And each of the kids, both 21st creatures through and through, are funny, thoughtful, sweet and smart.

I enjoy them as people, no question. They’re awesome.

Just last night, when I was putting my daughter to bed, I tickled her, she ripped a huge fart as a result, and we laughed so hard my belly hurt. (Or maybe that was the lard-bomb-enchiladas my wife brought home…)

I cherish being a parent.
I value it.
It’s the most important thing I’ve ever done.

Being a parent has made me a smarter, more capable, more compassionate, empathetic, successful person.

But it’s not “fun.” (And I don’t love the parenting, I love the kids.)

It’s way too hard to be fun, generally speaking.

There are parts of the experience that are great, and specific time periods or vacations that, as an exception, might be pure bliss.

But on a macro-level, it is grueling to constantly find the energy to be a full-time professional, and a full-time Dad.

We hear about that all the time, with respect to the impossibility of working Moms having it all, or being perfect in each arena, but we guys have the same problem too!

With each successive generation, new parents learn just how comprehensive it is to give life, and then sustain it.

But with each successive generation, one group of people get to have all the fun, without (almost) any of the responsibility: the grandparents.

Hell, Jessie and I moved back to Taos so that we could raise our children, (then hypothetical,) among two sets of grandparents: for the help, the support, the encouragement, the diapers funds, and all sorts of privileges that come from having built-in help.

It’s likely that I haven’t said thank you often enough, (though it’s a word I bandy about often,) because the grandparents treat the entire experience, (the same one that’s giving me gray beard-hairs,) like it’s a big trip to Six Flags on Ecstasy all day, every day.

Who wants more ice cream?
How about some chocolate sauce on top?

And don’t let me forget to pour the whipped cream directly into your mouth! (Just joking, Dad, you know I think it’s cute.)

Grand-parenting looks like the “fun-do-over” that all parents realize they want, (too late with their own kids,) because they were too stressed and freaked out to enjoy it when their babies were young and adorable.

I mention this now, having just put down “Real Pictures,” a book that arrived last fall from Peggy Levison Nolan, published by Daylight. According to the end text, Ms. Nolan is the mother of 7 children, whom she’s photographed all along, but this book focuses squarely on their lives as adult children, with a slew of grand-kids in tow.

This is one of the books I mentioned recently, as I’d looked at it once and deemed it too similar to “Born,” which I reviewed not too long ago. But it seemed like it was worth re-visiting, as I knew I’d first viewed it in a bad mood, and it was at least intriguing enough to get into the maybe stack.

(In fairness, I missed the page with the subtitle “Tales of a Badass Grandma” the first time around.)

Today, the book’s bright, reddish-orange color caught the sunlight, and I picked it up again with fresh eyes.

Almost immediately, I was attracted to the cheeky insouciance with which these parenting adventures were photographed. There’s a brief opening statement in which the artist shares that she has kids, and honors her oldest daughter, who apparently led her younger siblings on a Western migration.

I was consistently intrigued by this sense of remove, of watching the action from the slightest distance, while still being in the room.

The pictures certainly don’t feel like they’re made of strangers, especially given the intimacy of the several baby butt shots. (Which I won’t photograph below, for obvious reasons.)

The kid in the diaper up the pole is a great image, and it’s paired with the dirty, painted feet standing on a chair. Most of the images use color and light well, (Thanks, California,) while also showing the behind-the-curtain, absurdist mundanity of it all.

The end text shares that Peggy Levison Nolan makes photo albums for each of her children, and the pictures are the same ones in this book. They may look like art, but to her, (and her family,) they are a personal history that we all get to share.

Just before the essays, there’s a short poem about (presumably) the artist waking up to thrift-store-painted portraits on the wall, rather than the sounds of her family.

And the last photo is (presumably) of her aged feet in bed.

It’s a powerful way to bring the story home, and I’m glad I gave this strong book another look.

Bottom Line: Visions from a hip grandma

To Purchase “Real Pictures” click here 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We’re particularly interested in submissions from female photographers, and artists of color, so we may maintain a diverse program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: David Walter Banks of Brinson+Banks

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist:  Brinson Banks

‘Chroma’ Artist Statement: Chroma has two purposes for me, it offers a chance to feel connected and it provides an opportunity to explore and experiment with light and color, as every image in this series is created in camera with minimal to no post-production.
The current socio-political climate in the United States has created a palpable tension that flows like electricity through us all. This has magnified both the divisions as well as the need for reunification.
I feel this increasing disconnection with the world around me of late, as though I’m separate as an observer. Yet, at the same time I have a deep yearning to connect with others. Apathy is in one hand and empathy is in the other.
I create these images in hopes of coming to terms with my feelings of isolation, but also to reconnect one on one. I connect with my subjects through this intimate shared experience, while provoking and evoking an emotive response. I ask for introspection, vulnerability, sometimes angst or sorrow, sometimes light and hope. Before I take a single photo, I share inspiration from a small collection of painters and authors whose use of color, light, and language I hold dear. With each subject, I take the time to sit, talk, and share this work before lifting the camera. Then I often simply wait in the uncomfortable warming silence as the ether informs the pose and expression, allowing it in.
And, as we are creating together, apathy turns into empathy.
To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

 

The Daily Edit – Harvard Business Review: Grace Chon

- - The Daily Edit

Harvard Business Review

Creative Director: John Korpics
Photographer:
Grace Chon

Heidi: How did this body of work start?
Grace: The series actually started out as a personal project with 9 dogs, back in 2016. The series went massively viral, and then turned into a book called Puppy Styled that was published in 2018.

Are these dogs trained?
The dogs are all not studio trained animals – they are pets that didn’t have experience modeling, let alone in a studio in front of strobe lights. 
 more info about the series here

Is it difficult to give the animals direction?
I’m extremely connected to animals and intuitive about them while I shoot, so it’s not difficult to give them direction because I’m pretty tuned into how they’re feeling on set. I also make sure to keep them happy while we shoot, so I bring a variety of treats and toys to keep them happy and motivated. I tell people it’s like a mix of dog training and photography. I also make funny sounds to get fun, unexpected looks to the camera.

Where did your love of people and pets start from?
I’ve always loved animals my entire life! I grew up watching Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures and wanted to be a vet when I grew up. 


The Daily Promo – Cody O’Loughlin

- - The Daily Promo

Cody O’Loughlin

Who printed it?
I used Smartpress to print this set. They’re great to work with during the proofing and mock up process, and offer plenty of quality paper options.

Who designed it?
I designed the promo myself with the help of my wife, Nicole, who has an excellent eye for design. I wanted to do a tri-fold in square format because it sequences a bit like a book. I also thought it was neat to have the portrait of Braxton in a diptych as well as a tryptic when the promo is fully unfolded.

Tell me about the images?
This promo was from a shoot I did with Laura O’Neil at the New York Times featuring jazz-legend and composer Anthony Braxton. Braxton is in his fourth year of writing an opera at his home studio in CT. He’s composing and transcribing the opera on hundreds of oversized, handwritten pages that are meticulously stacked in his studio. I photographed the score and rearranged Braxton’s own handwriting for the font and text in my promo. I love how precise and unique his style is and thought using his own penmanship would help tell his story.

How many did you make?
150

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I send out promos two or three times a year, or when I have new projects I’m excited about sharing. I write personal notes for each one and send them out to specific editors I’m keen to work with.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I have found that over time thoughtful printed pieces do go a long way with editors. I’ve received lots of positive feedback and think marketing this way has been a big part in landing gigs for clients like the Times. I’m always grateful when editors take the time to reach out in response to my promos – it’s a great way to build relationships and collaborate on assignments.

This Week in Photography Books: Nick St. Oegger

 

Sometimes, I feel like an armchair Tony Bourdain.

(Minus the depression, thankfully.)

I still have a hard time thinking about Tony, as his death both hit me hard, and exposed the power of his through-the-camera-charm.

When Tony killed himself, there was an outpouring of global grief that I’ve seen very few times.

It was big when Pope John Paul died.
Sure.

And David Bowie.
People got really upset about that one.

But even a President like Ronald Fucking Reagan made barely a blip, when he finally gave up the ghost, while a Jewish-French Jersey boy, a former heroin addict who eventually got hooked on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, managed to shake the world with his passing.

Why?

It’s a fair question to ask, now that it’s been long enough for the emotions to have settled.

Tony lived a huge chunk of his late life on camera, and the guy that emerged for his audience was cool, smart, curious, funny, interested, intellectual, and above all, respectful.

He treated each person he met, in every country, with an innate dignity that made that person like and respect him right back.

Beyond the cool, party-guy, hard-drinking persona, there was the soul of an artist, as well as a cook. (Cooks don’t often call themselves chefs, and vice versa.)

I can’t imagine how a guy with that much to live for could feel so awful as to believe that a noose was his only way out.

He must have felt really, really shitty to do what he did.

But I can imagine how it must have felt, all those years into the job, when he began to truly understand just how alike all the places in the world were.

At some point, (the law of diminishing returns,) it simply must have been impossible to summon the energy to ask one more question, no matter how interesting his counterpart might be.

(I’m not saying I’m burned out, because that’s not true.)

Last week, I went into my own memory to pull out an important book to share with you, because I could. That creative freedom is special, and probably the number one reason why I have avoided boredom or flamed out.

Rather, after 7.5 years of doing this each week, the world has come to me several times over. A few years back, I wrote that I’d reviewed projects from every continent, and now it’s likely been twice.

These days, there are really few places that I haven’t seen, virtually, via photographs.

As such, all the meta-stories become really obvious.

Most people just try to raise their families in a safe environment, get as nice a lifestyle as they can, and live in an area that offers economic opportunity, a clean environment, and lots of social and cultural options.

Good luck finding a magic place like that.

And the ones that do exist, and are well known, have become inaccessibly expensive for most “regular” people. (I’m looking at you New York, San Francisco, and from, what I hear, LA.)

Money and power have always ruled the world, and always will. Those resources congregate in cities, which means that there is deep rural poverty across much of the world.

In those out-of-the-way places, young people flock to cities for the aforementioned reasons. Older people are left to run the vestiges of an agricultural economy, with a dwindling population, and few resources.

The natural resources that sustain these rural communities, (unless they’re in some of the few global countries that have strong, enforceable environmental protections,) will likely be manipulated by larger, governmental and corporate interests.

Those power players often trade environmental degradation for cash, or energy development, at the expense of those poor rural villagers who lack the funds, education, and/or organizing capacity to fight back in any meaningful way.

(Or, just as likely, the country in which that happens lacks the rule of law at all.)

So I was both engaged, and not entirely surprised, to read of the plight of the Vjosa river in Albania.

I was looking at “Kuçedra: Portraits of Life on Europe’s Last Wild River,” by Nick St. Oegger, which was self-published last year. (With funding from Patagonia and several other environmental organizations.)

It showed up from Ireland, though the bio at the end says that Nick was born in California. (So I’m not sure if he’s an American living in Ireland, or an Irishman who was born in America.)

Though it’s far from brilliant, I like this book, and am writing about it, which is always the number one compliment I can give. It inspired my creativity, and made me think about something.

(In this case, Tony Bourdain.)

I’ve never been to Albania, and outside of working for an Albanian guy in a restaurant in the East Village, (he fired me,) I don’t know much about the place.

It occupies that Macedonian region, south of the old Yugoslavia, but North of that whole Greece/Turkey axis.

What’s it like?

An early map shows how much Adriatic coastline it sports, (and it made me think, hmmmm, I bet there are some cool beach towns there,) but the Vjosa only dead ends in the sea, so this is a more inland affair.

(With wandering, ambling, fresh water, in lieu of the endless, salty horizon of the sea. Like I said last week, I need a vacation.)

The Vjosa interlinks ancient rural communities who indeed face the problems I wrote of above.

Dwindling populations, no jobs.

A strong, clear essay at the beginning, by a professor in Slovenia, tells us that women used to marry upriver, and move into their husbands’ communities over the generations.

The metaphor she uses, of upstream representing fresh and new, of young and vibrant, makes sense in an old-school DNA way, as in small villages, if you keep moving in one direction, your cousins will always be behind you. (Meaning, you won’t marry them.)

It keeps the genetics fresh, which is so important in isolated, rural communities. (Remember, I live in one.)

As the federal power structure has begun to dam the river, in search of hydro power, the culture and environment are both at risk, and communities have organized to battle.

But really, in 2019, how many of us think the villagers will win?

The text tells us the EU is trying to strong-arm Albania into behaving better, environmentally, but they’re doing what they want now, in case they do ever join the EU, and give up sovereignty.

I like the pictures, and the light in particular. They’re certainly lovely, in some cases outright beautiful. One concern, though, before I knew whether Nick was Irish or American, was why he was in Albania in the first place?

Where was the intentionality, or deep connection to time and place?

And these did not seem like they were shot over a long duration.

In the portraits, the villagers are often guarded, or look away, which is a tell-tale sign that there is a large chasm between the photographer and the subject.

Last week, I bemoaned the fact that so many of these books look alike these days. (A plea, perhaps, for some edgy submissions?)

This one is not dramatically different in style or content from most books, and I know I’ve equated Albania with many other places, but overall, the book does give us a sense of the smell in the air, I’d say.

And it is undoubtedly the first book I’ve seen from Albania, which is always high on my list of getting a review: showing us perspectives we’ve never seen before.

As I looked at it, I did wonder if its raison d’être might be that it was funded by environmental interests, or a national tourism board.

It’s got something of that feel, and in the end, we learn that’s what transpired. Eco-tourism is one of the few potentially clean economic engines for places like the Vjosa, so I wish those warriors well as they fight the powers that be.

Now I can say I know what rural, agricultural Albania looks like, and so can you.

We’re along for the ride together, and I never forget it.

Bottom Line: An beautiful eco-tale from Albania

To purchase “Kuçedra” click here 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We currently have a several month backlog, and are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers so we may maintain a balanced program.

The Art of the Personal Project: Giulio Sciorio

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.  

Today’s featured artist:   Giulio Sciorio

Artist Statement

Traditionally a Mexican neighborhood in Chicago, Pilsen is in the process of gentrification. The images in this series are portraits of the people I connected with while exploring the neighborhood. These individuals, small business owners, and families represent a community in transition.

I’m moved by the plight of communities facing gentrification like Pilsen. It’s hard enough for people to make rent for their homes and small businesses and I wonder what will happen to them when they are forced out of their neighborhood. As luxury condos and cafes replace hidden gems like barbershops and amazing Mexican food joints, the personality of Pilsen will be forever changed. Through photography, I wanted to capture this moment in Chicago’s history before it’s gone forever.

What I love about photography is the human connection. Before making a street portrait, I connect with my subjects on an individual level. With some loose direction if any, I prefer to get as close as possible to the subject which I feel captures their honest emotions while allowing space for self-expression. Community, self-expression, and diversity are the foundation of my photographic work.

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

Marketing: Agencies to put on your radar (if they aren’t already)

- - Marketing

In this business, it is crucial to make sure you are keeping up with the agencies to market to and get on their radar.  When a former co-worker asked his FB connections, which is largely top creative people, for the top agencies to watch and up and coming agencies, I knew it was a list I wanted to research for my clients.  My clients receive weekly/bi-monthly articles about recently awarded accounts (brands) to an agency.  They also receive articles of importance in this business and a marketing booklet on how to find these agencies and their email.   

I have always said that our marketing should be done as it was before we had computers but now with the luxury of computers.  Yes, many years ago you had to read the trades to see what was happening in advertising.  As an art buyer, it was those people who had read the trades and called to discuss actual accounts we worked on that got my attention.  Today many people rely on companies to do the research but it is important to do it yourself or supplement their information.

Here is a partial list of the agencies mentioned to get you motivated to do your research and get noticed.  In your marketing, it is a personalized email complimenting them on the work they feature on their site or an article in their news section.  Google agency’s name to see if they have been featured in an article or an award show.  It is crucial that you stand out above your competition.  The previous article on branding (http://aphotoeditor.com/2019/02/27/branding-and-why-it-matters/) that was featured last week can help you as well.   If it is an agency you really admire, then check back on the agency to see what they post, and if you like something new they post, then mention it to them to keep on their radar.   We are in sales while being artists so it is important to get in front of the people who can hire you.

McKee Wallwork & Company        Albuquerque, NM    * 

www.mckeewallwork.com

LI:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/mckee-wallwork-&-company/

Fact & Fiction   Boulder, CO 

https://factandfiction.work

LI:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/fact-&-fiction/

Wond3r company     Houston

https://www.wond3r.company

LI: https://www.linkedin.com/company/wond3r/

Mekanism    San Francisco

https://mekanism.com

LI:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/mekanism/

Heartbeat    New York, NY    (Ad Age- best place to work)

https://www.weareheartbeat.com

LI:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/heartbeat-ideas/

Joan      New York

https://www.joancreative.com

Preacher      Austin, TX  *

http://preacher.co

LI:   https://www.linkedin.com/company/preacher/

MGH    Baltimore

https://mghus.com

LI: https://www.linkedin.com/company/mgh-inc-/

Cayenne Creative   Birmingham, AL

https://cayennecreative.com

LI: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cayenne-creative/

Baker St. Advertising    San Francisco

https://bakerstadvertising.com

LI:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/baker-street-advertising/about/

Tom, Dick & Harry     Chicago, IL

http://tdhcreative.com

LI: https://www.linkedin.com/company/tom-dick-and-harry-advertising/

Human   Boulder, CO

https://humandesign.com

LI:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/human-design/

Chemistry    Atlanta, GA  & Pittsburgh, PA

https://www.chemistryagency.com

LI: https://www.linkedin.com/company/chemistryagency/

Battery     Los Angeles  *

https://www.batteryagency.com

LI:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/battery-agency/

Johanes Leonardo   New York, NY

http://johannesleonardo.com

LI:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/johannes-leonardo/about/

Push   Orlando

https://www.pushhere.com

LI:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/push/

 

*voted one of Adage’s small agency of the year

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Daily Edit – Ethan Pines: Forbes Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

Ethan Pines talks about photographing Elizabeth Holmes for Forbes

In late 2014 I photographed Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO of the now notoriously fraudulent blood-testing company and Silicon Valley darling Theranos. When I shot her for the Forbes 400 issue, she was the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. By 2016 The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and others had published excoriating investigative pieces, and Forbes estimated her net worth at zero.

Suddenly her story is everywhere again: John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood is a hit, HBO’s documentary The Inventor just premiered at Sundance, the ABC News podcast The Drop Out is streaming, and a seemingly endless number of articles on Holmes’s massive fraud have come out. In addition to appearing editorially here and there, my portraits have been licensed as key art for the HBO documentary and the ABC podcast.

And friends keep asking me, What was it like at the company? What did you see around their offices? How was it spending a few hours with the woman who appears to be a narcissistic, delusional fraud, maybe even a sociopath? The short answer is, I now see clearly how her starry-eyed investors were taken in. 

The company came across as fairly standard Silicon Valley. A campus in Palo Alto, a P.R. person coordinating and vetting everything beforehand, modern open-office architecture, lots of young people from an array of countries walking around doing their jobs. On the walls were large prints from a Martin Schoeller shoot commissioned by the company — including a portrait of Holmes herself — and a giant mural with Yoda’s famous DO OR DO NOT. THERE IS NO TRY. The company was accommodating and welcoming, which is usually the case when you’re coming in to shoot a potential Forbes cover.

As a biotech company, they also had a ton of lab equipment, machinery and accessories around. In hindsight, I keep wondering, if Theranos’s core technology and promises couldn’t deliver, what was all this for? I suppose they were trying to make good on Holmes’s unproven, likely impossible promise of conducting dozens of tests from a single drop of blood, i.e., they were following tech’s ubiquitous fake-it-till-you-make-it approach. Some areas were a jam-packed, disorganized mess. (See next image.)

As for Holmes herself, photographing her was entirely different from what you might think. While she apparently sought to emulate Steve Jobs — his mythically genius status, his black minimalist wardrobe, his change-the-world ambitions, his megalomania — she did not adopt his difficult demeanor, at least on the day we spent with her. Jobs was reputed to be an awful jerk. Holmes was polite, genuine, easygoing, friendly, accessible and an engaged conversationist. She asked about me and my crew, never dominating the conversation. She did her own hair and makeup (quite well). She spent much of her time on set without her her P.R. person around. 

I’ve photographed a lot of tech CEOs — Sundar Pichai at Google, Elon Musk at Spacex, Kevin Systrom at Instagram, Jen-Hsun Huang at Nvidia, Tom Siebel at C3 IoT, Patrick Soon-Shiong at Nantworks, Travis Kalanick at Uber, etc. — and they all either have very little time, a specific way they want to be portrayed, or both. Some have that CEO swagger, some are immersed in their own deep thoughts. Yet Elizabeth Holmes was surprisingly malleable, seemingly a blank slate. 

She ceded control, trusted us with the shoot and took direction well. She didn’t come out of the gate with fake investor-friendly smiles and body language, nothing smug, no crossed-arm power poses like subjects tend to do for Forbes. I asked her to relax her face completely and just look into the camera, and we got those doe-eyed blank expressions you see in the posters. Between her black turtleneck, shaped black jacket and asymmetrical hair, she had a bit of a sci-fi look, and I told her so. She appreciated the compliment. She was a bit of a dream subject, and I think I was developing a crush on her.

She gave us a lot of time, which is unusual. After setting up for about three hours beforehand, we shot her in three different locations for at least a couple of hours. In two of the setups I asked if we could have some blood samples in the shots, and I found it a bit weird that they had these tiny, fake blood containers just sitting around, at the ready … for what? Publicity? Internal presentations? Employee morale? There was also a metal cart labeled Ebola in the lab where we shot, which freaked us out a bit.

If you’ve seen footage of her talking, you’ve probably noticed her unusually low voice. There are rumors that she deliberately lowered her voice to compete in the male-dominated tech field, but I don’t recall it being that low, and I think I would have remembered something so odd. What I do remember is being charmed by this young, attractive, billionaire visionary who spent time with me and my crew and made us feel important. 

And now I realize: This is part of what lured investors. Sincerity. Relatability. Accessibility. Simplicity. The facade of quiet wisdom. Eye contact from huge blue eyes that made you feel you were hearing the unvarnished truth. How could there be anything sinister or deceitful behind those giant, pure glacial pools? In a promotional video commissioned by the company, a compilation of female employees dreamily laud Holmes as “inspiring,” ”intelligent,” “strong,” “nurturing” and full of “big ideas.” Holmes appears at the end the video. At first she looks down humbly, speaks thoughtfully. Finally she looks up at the lens to deliver the final line: “Next to every glass ceiling there’s an iron lady.”

You couldn’t help liking her, wanting to believe her, itching to embrace the dreamy future she promised. I could see how investors and the media were taken in, just as I was. How bizarre to look back and realize that we were in the belly of a massive fraud machine, the deception happening all around us.  It’s hard to know what was real and what was fake, both in the company and in Holmes herself. By the end, perhaps not even she knew. 

This Week in Photography Books: Cristina Garcia Rodero

I’m turning 45 on Monday.

(Halfway to 90.)

As of then, I can say I’ve been an artist for more than half my life, as I picked up the habit at 22, and it hasn’t let go yet.

Lately, though, I find I don’t have quite the thrill for photography that I used to.

It makes sense, as it’s been my primary medium the entire time. (Though one could argue I’ve been writing more than shooting the last few years.)

Still, doing the same thing, over and over again, will make almost anyone bored. (I say almost, because now that I’ve studied Japanese martial arts for 2 months, I already have a better handle on their obsession with repetition.)

Add in the fact that as resident book reviewer here, (400+ posts and counting,) I see a lot of photo projects, and it’s understandable that I’d get a bit jaded from time to time.

(I probably just need a vacation.)

Still, I love to be surprised, to see new things, and to keep it fresh for you, my loyal global audience.

Today, I was loathe to review the first few books I checked out, as they were reminiscent of things I’d reviewed quite recently. So I sat here on my couch, willing myself to be inspired to write.

Got to hit that deadline.

No inspiration, no column.

I closed my eyes, thinking about the feeling of inspiration. The rush of adrenaline as your mind expands in real time. The thrill of looking at things that make you want to create, or travel, or both.

In my imagination, I was back in Albuquerque at UNM, in 1997. I was studying Photo 1 at the time, and at the encouragement of my professor, Jeff Tomlinson, I headed to the Fine Arts library to look at some photo books.

Walking the stacks, creeping around like Inspector Javert, I ran my fingers across the spines in the photo section, cocking my head sideways to read the titles.

I stopped at “España Oculta: Public Celebrations in Spain 1974-89,” by Cristina Garcia Rodero, published by Smithsonian Books, and pulled it from its neighboring tomes.

“What are you,” I asked, curious to know?

15 years is a long time, and as I’m coming up on my 14th anniversary of moving back to New Mexico, I should know. It represents the length of this project, and even then, as a pure beginner, I wondered how anyone could sustain that kind of interest in one subject for that long.

The focus.
The discipline.

These days, I can imagine a Spaniard, around 30 or so, who enjoyed shooting at festivals in her native country, and checked in from time to time over a decade and a half. It doesn’t seem impossible, though at 23, that’s exactly how I viewed it.

The consistent surreality of the scenes won me over, and still does. The disbelief that these were real people, in real situations, and not staged fantasies.

Even then, as young-20-something who’d only been around New Mexico for 10 years, I’d heard stories of local Penitente societies still active, in which believers self-flagellated, and wore hoods.

Here, in the book, were versions of that before me, only exponentially more intricate. The Baroque nature of Spanish Catholicism was on full display, with crucifixion rituals, baby coffins, and midget bull-fighters. (Sorry. Little People.)

I bought the book soon afterwards, at the ICP bookstore in Manhattan, likely 3 or 4 locations back.

And even though it remains my favorite photo-book of all time, somehow, in between all the moves…

I lost it.

Luckily, Ms. Garcia Rodero is a member of Magnum, and they have a digital copy of the entire book on their site, which is a very 21st Century experience. (Even if it’s not the equal of those excellent reproductions on paper.)

The pictures feel relevant to me in a totally new way, on the day when Michael Cohen is testifying about his former-boss-and-buddy Donald J Trump.

Trumpism and Nationalism can be easily mistaken for each other, these days, though I might be generous and declare the latter is at least based on a proper love for the cultures and traditions of a place on Earth.

(Again, if I’m being kind. Trumpism is nothing more than narcissism having an incest baby with geopolitics.)

Here in America, we’re all from somewhere else. All of us. (Even our indigenous folks walked in 15,000 years ago.)

Our culture is polyglot and hybridic by nature. Many Americans, (myself included,) are Europhiles, either because their ancestors came from there, or because the allure of age and aesthetics entice us to stare longingly at rituals that make no sense next to Walmart and McDonalds.

These pictures revel in the “Spanishness” that you read, in think-pieces, is at risk of disappearing. The very specificity of place and time that gets annihilated when beanie-wearing-hipsters FaceTime with each other across national borders, giggling at outmoded concepts like local culture while fiddling with their Apple watches.

The Globalists.

Was that even a word when I first saw this book, back before the internet was even a thing?

Probably not.

But certain ideas represented in “España Oculta” never go out of style. Creative excellence, formal craftsmanship, patience and hard work, and shooting thousands of rolls of film.

After all these years, I’ve never reviewed a book from memory before, but there’s a first time for everything.

If you can find a copy of this one, by all means buy it. (Or probably anything else of hers you can get your hands on.) I once stumbled upon her show, at MoMAPS1, in which she’d made images of Voodoo rituals in Haiti that practically gave me nightmares.

Truth be told, I feel better now than I did before I found her images online, and reconnected with this marvelous narrative.

It’s an example of the best our medium has to offer, IMO, and reminds me why it’s so important to keep pushing that rock up the hill each day.

Bottom Line: A Baroque, Spanish masterpiece


If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We currently have a several month backlog, and are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers so we may maintain a balanced program.

The Art of the Personal Project: Kirsty Mitchell

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.  

Today’s featured artist:  Kirsty Mitchell


Described as a multi-faceted artist, British fine art photographer Kirsty Mitchell draws on her past careers in fashion design and costume making, to produce images of beguiling dream-like worlds all shot in the ancient woodlands of her home county Surrey. Kirsty describes her approach as ‘Fantasy for Real’ spending months meticulously handcrafting her character’s costumes and props to coincide with the bloom of wild flowers and the seasonal extremes of her local environment.
After graduating from six years of study at The London College of Fashion and Ravensbourne College of Art, Kirsty went on to complete internships at the studios of Avant Garde designers, Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan. Her career as a fashion designer continued for over a decade until 2008 when Kirsty developed a sudden and deeply emotional passion for photography, during the treatment of her mother’s terminal cancer. It was through the lens that Mitchell felt able to channel her grief and communicate emotions she felt unable to talk about with the people she loved. She describes photography as becoming both an obsession and a therapy.

In the summer of 2009 Kirsty embarked on the creation of the Wonderland series, a project intended as a book in her mother’s memory. The international acclaim for this body of work led Mitchell to leave her fashion career behind in 2011 and after 5 intensive years, Wonderland was completed in 2014.

A year later, after a number of offers from major publishers, Mitchell decided to launch her own crowd funding campaign to create the Wonderland book in order to produce a high end publication made from the finest materials possible, printed in Italy. The campaign went on to become the most successfully funded photography book in crowd funding history, raising more than £334K in just 28 days and was completely sold out within 3 months. The Wonderland book is now in it’s Second Edition and continues to sell around the world. The series is now an international touring museum show, hosted by Fotografiska, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious museums for contemporary photography.

Gammelyn’s Daughter
The Fade Of Fallen Memories
The Ghost Swift 2018
The Queen’s Armada
The Secret Locked In The Roots

To see more of this project, click here.

A film about this project, click here 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

Branding and why it matters

- - Marketing

Branding and why it matters.

Think of a restaurant, hotel or store where the whole experience was not only fantastic, it was a great experience that you wanted to go back and you tell all your friends about it…this is why branding is important.

So this is what you should be asking yourself about your brand.  What are the misconceptions you are saying or not saying about your brand?  Many think that a brand is your logo, but it is so much more. It is your images, your website navigation, your Instagram account, your twitter account and most important, your reputation.  How do you conduct business?  How buttoned up are you in your marketing?  Are you consistent in your marketing?  Are you targeting the right audience?  What message does your marketing convey?  And it goes beyond that when a project comes through from estimate, creative call, pre-production before the project starts and how professional are you on set?  Are you a team member with your crew and do you treat them fairly?  How do you treat the entire agency team (and not just the creative team), craft services that take into consideration dietary restrictions, getting images to the client quickly and then does your invoice match the estimate? This is all a part of your brand. Why this is important is because one person’s misconception of how you conduct your business can affect your longevity.

When I was an art buyer, I was fortunate to work with many photographers on all levels.  I have witnessed so many careers end because of the photographers lack of understanding that the whole experience was important.  I had creative directors tell me of on-set horror stories.  A photographer screamed at his crew in front of everyone; no food during the shoot for my art director although there is a receipt for food at a restaurant on the invoice; or photographers treating the account executive and client like they didn’t matter (client is paying the invoice).  During my career as an art buyer, I have seen it all. Photographers telling the client (major alcohol brand) to leave the set, overages on an invoice that were never approved or even bought to our attention, purchased wardrobe that wasn’t a part of our shoot and never returned to the agency, the receipt for a shirt and tie came from Neiman Marcus but the items returned to the agency were from JC Penney, invoices with missing receipts and even a meal receipt that included cleaning supplies, pet food and cat litter!

The majority of those photographers are no longer in this business.  Production is a part of your brand just like an experience at a hotel, restaurant or store is a part of their brand.  The hotel may be nice, but if you are charged for items you didn’t order, you are not going back. The food may be great but no one wants to pay top dollar to hear the chef scream at his staff.  Or the store may have nice merchandise but if the sales folks don’t acknowledge your presence then you are not going back.

On the flip side, we went back to a photographer’s studio over and over again because the whole experience was not only professional with fantastic results on our project but an all around enjoyable experience.

It is crucial that you look at your entire brand and what type of experience you offer.  Be honest with yourself as your longevity in this business depends on it.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Daily Edit – Andrew Quilty: TIME

- - The Daily Edit

TIME

Design Director/Creative Director: D.W. Pine
Photographer: Andrew Quilty

Heidi: How has politics shaped your work there?
Andrew: American foreign policy since 9/11 shaped my opinion and much of my mission here. I’ve been focusing on Afghans rather than on Americans in Afghanistan. Granted it’s little bit easier for me to concentrate on Afghans over Americans because I am here at a time when the American involvement has been significantly reduced, especially in comparison to  2008 to ‘12. Having said that, America’s involvement in Afghanistan since 2001—and it’s failures—affect affairs here on a daily basis. It’s hard to separate that affect from any subject a journalist might choose to look at here, and I don’t think it should be

What was your sense of the country before you arrived?
When I came here, all I knew of the country was what I had seen through the media

I have this photo in my head: 10 camouflage-wearing soldiers walking through a dusty village or across a dusty plain. Before 2001, I wouldn’t have even had that. I wouldn’t have even been able to place Afghanistan on a map, let alone tell you who was there, who’d come and gone or who was in charge on September 11.

What drives you?
More and more, I feel an obligation to redirect the minds of readers and viewers who, for the most part, like their governments, are only interested in Afghanistan insofar as it effects them or their national self interest. It’s playing out now with America’s number one priority during peace talks with the Taliban being a guarantee that Afghanistan won’t be used as a base for terror groups with international aspirations, with the future for Afghans seemingly a distant second.  There’s some anger toward the Americans and their allies for the hubris that allowed them to think they could mould yet another country that was only moderately willing into a shape more suitable to them. And there’s probably some guilt that I’m from one of those countries that followed the U.S. in, blindly, driven by emotion and revenge.

How do you think your images would have been different had you
 been in the country earlier?
I don’t want to criticise those who came before me because, in the early years of the war there was an appetite for what the international soldiers were doing. Of course readers from Australia want to know what their soldiers are doing; why they’re fighting and dying and coming home mentally ruined. I have no doubt that if I was here, then, I’d have been covering the international military mission almost exclusively, too. But what we rarely heard about were the Afghans affected by the war. The innocent ones being killed in horrific ways. Or why, after the Taliban had been ousted, were people turning against their “liberators.” Afghanistan was still depicted in simplistic way: government good, Taliban bad, when the reality was far more complex. That simplification not only damaged the international public’s understanding of Afghanistan and the deteriorating situation here in recent years, it also ensured the failure of the international military mission and built a culture of corruption into the government and its institutions.

Is this a reaction to how the media has imbalanced everything?
It wasn’t about Afghanistan. No one really cared about the outcome for Afghanistan. It was-and still is-all about Afghanistan in relation to how it will affect America. So I just find that a little unfair.

How are you trying to humanize this in your own mind?
I think about the people who had no say in this. First they were given hope, then despair and the whole roller coaster that’s ensued. What about them? International interest has tended to focus more on those who made the choice to come here. It hate the cliche of the journalist’s roll being to speak for the downtrodden, but when the balance is so far out of wack, as I feel it was through the majority of the war, and when those who have, and continue to impose well-meaning but dismal policy and strategy are all but impervious to reproach, it’s hard not to back the underdog. 

What speaks to you about this experience?
and what is misunderstood by those that consume your work?
Well, look, I think a lot of people assume that I’m here out of some sense of vocation– and yeah I think that’s part of it but I also think there’s a lot of other things to consider. I actually quite like my life here outside of my work. Although work is pretty all-consuming, I happen to love the work that I’m able to do here. But my point is, a lot of people assume I’m making huge sacrifices and taking massive risks being here, and that I’m doing it all for the sake of the Afghan people. In general, I don’t even think photographers and journalists are particularly empathetic people. That’s a myth that viewers can easily fall for by looking at the kind of subjects many of us focus on but I don’t think it’s entirely accurate. Sure, I get affected by things here – I’ll have to wipe away tears while listening to people tell their stories and I won’t sleep a wink for a couple of days after being close to a bombing but I’m not sure a deeply empathetic person would last long—assuming they had the choice to leave—in this kind of environment. I suppose it’s a journalist’s job to be able to switch it on and off; to be able to channel it into words or pictures rather than letting it overwhelm ones soul.

What is your life like there?
 I manage a nice old Afghan house that’s home to two dogs taken off the street before I arrived and an assortment of others, mostly journalists, who stay for varying lengths of time. I read the news over breakfast and coffee most days and, if I don’t have something specific to work on I’ll try to get out on my motorcycle to shoot some pictures. As a photographer, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this city. Aside from that, like any photographer or journalist, I’m planning trips into the provinces, pitching or filing stories, sending invoices, responding to emails and, twice or three times each week I’ll do something social, usually dinner or drinks at a friend’s place, taking a new housemate along on the back of the bike.

Are you married? Do you have children?
No. No, no. Neither. I’ve had a couple of semi-long-term relationships here in Kabul. But I’ve never dated an Afghan. The foreigner crowd here is a good group of people, by and large. They’re all in similar life circumstances – no kids, no mortgage, maybe or maybe not married. So it’s a bunch of people who are at a similar stage in their life and they’re usually pretty good at what they do. It’s like small-town life with people who have chosen to eschew small-town life.

Dinner table conversation is always really interesting, save for when it inevitably turns to matters of security in Kabul. But that’s a bonus. Obviously good dinner table conversation wouldn’t be enough to keep me here if I didn’t love my work, as I do in a way I never have before. Back in Sydney, I was probably really invested in 20% of the work I did. I cared about it. I cared about what I was photographing. The other 80% was what I had to do to pay the bills. Here, I mean, it’s beyond the inverse. I mean, there’s very little that I photograph here that I don’t find interesting, that I’m not personally curious about or that I don’t think is important. It’s very hard to find a subject here that isn’t in some way affected by the country’s history, and that history makes those subject’s stories compelling in a way that is rare, especially somewhere like Australia. As a photographer, it’s hard to turn away from that.

When I go on your Instagram and see what you are publishing if looks like an incredible opportunity, photographically to personally grow so I would understand why.
Yes.

You’re going to come out the other side of this immersion a completely changed person,  Most people wouldn’t even think about trying…
Yeah, very much so. Most people assume that you can only come out the other end of a period working as a photographer in Afghanistan as a diminished person, damaged by what you’ve seen. If I left now, I’d leave a richer person than the one that arrived here five years ago.

You’ve said you arrived in  Afghanistan and just knew that was it. 
Many people struggle to craft a voice. What I enjoy about your work is — I feel like you’re happy. You’ve zeroed in on a very distinct voice and eye and you’re able to articulate your pictures. It’s fortunate that you’ve found this calling because most people search for this their whole lives.
Yeah. Yeah. I know. I know. And I didn’t even knew I was looking for it. I thought I was satisfied in the work I was doing back in Australia and from New York, and now I look back on it, and it’s like BC/AD – before and after I came to Afghanistan. Now, on my website, I don’t have a single picture that wasn’t taken in Afghanistan. It’s a very distinct line for me. It’s also helped me realise the potential of photography as a means to tell stories, or to inform, in a way I’d never understood. 

 I’m sure that there’s some haunting things that you’re seeing, too. How do you cope with that?
I try to look after myself and eat well and exercise and all those things. Speaking with friends. I mean, that’s the good thing about being here. Everyone is in the same boat, and strangely enough, some of my fondest memories here are of the nights following either a big bombing or an incident where someone we know has been killed or injured.  Coming together with a small group of friends, just being together, helps. What was that line in the movie Speed? Something about relationships formed under intense circumstances. Those will certainly be some of my strongest memories.

It’s rich. It’s real life that’s so visceral.
Yeah. It’s real experience. Yeah. And also part of the reason which makes it hard for me to think about leaving, and most people seem to think I should. 

Right. They’re probably afraid for you. People project and can’t even imagine themselves doing that, so it’s natural.
Yeah, of course.

Do you pitch stories written and shot by you?
Yes, I pitch stories myself and write them myself as well. But that’s relatively new. It came as a result of some of people I used to work and travel with leaving the country. All of a sudden I had to rethink where my assignments would come from, whereas previously, they tended to fall in my lap. Not only that, the stories attached to the assignments stopped coming, so, almost overnight I had to start thinking for myself. It’s a new way of working for me. Where I started my work as a photographer, at The Australian Financial Review in Sydney, I’d be handed my assignments on a piece of A4 paper each morning. It was very rare that I ever had to think for myself. It’s a bad habit that many photographers are bred into. The best photographers, I think, are thinking photographers, the ones who know their subjects intimately, rather than just turning up for a day after the writer has been and gone. So it’s actually been a blessing in disguise, and a challenge

Tell us about the making of this photo which was nominated for World Press Photo for 2019.

I was in a shop, below street level, about 200 metres from where a man driving an ambulance packed with explosives detonated when he was stopped at a police checkpoint. 
I was asked a similar question when I was home in Sydney recently. I was sitting on on a beach on a hot summer day with some new friends. They asked me about the worst thing I’d seen in Afghanistan. Without much enthusiasm, I gave them the thirty second version of what followed the explosion. The reaction was predictable. The kind of shock expressed to fulfil the social obligation of revulsion, not through actual revulsion, because how could anyone who hasn’t seen something like that conceive of how horrific it is? But we should be horrified. It was at that moment that I decided, if I was ever asked about it again, that I’d tell the whole story or not at all. 

The Daily Promo – Callie Lipkin

- - The Daily Promo

Who printed it?
Dreamworks Graphic Communications — https://www.dreamworks-gc.com

Who designed it?
Lisa Itzkowitz http://litzko.com

Tell me about the images?
I never imagined myself as a mother, but when my husband and I decided to have a child together it really opened up a whole new path in life for me both personally and creatively.

In my early 20s, all I wanted was to travel the world. I couldn’t get enough – soaking up different cultures, meeting new people, observing and photographing different approaches to life. In my later 20s and 30s, I took a break from traveling and was incredibly focused on career development. When I had my first son at 35, I felt like a foreign exchange student as a parent, totally out of my element with limited tools and language skills, and I fell in love with it.

I began photographing my Dad Time series shortly after my second son was born in 2013. Since my husband really became a full time dad at that point, we both started seeing the world through the lens of fatherhood which informed much of the early images. I also enjoyed documenting and directing other dads in scenarios that spoke about their own particular styles of parenting. I was still at a comfortable distance as the observer.

When my third son was born in late 2016, my world was in minor chaos. Taking almost no time off to keep my business running smoothly, I was lucky to spend a few hours a day with the new baby, with any of my kids really. My husband was holding everything together, we would wave and smile as we passed in the night.

I finally felt compelled to explore motherhood visually. My point of view was now more firmly developed, I feel less like a foreigner, more like an expat giving directions.

Many of the images in the Mom Time series come from deeply personal experiences. I have cleaned up my children when covered in food of every kind. I have used my breast pump on my way to work. I have tried to distract children during an unexpected client call. I have stolen a moment to watch TV while the rest of my family is asleep. Photography has helped me process and find humor in the difficulty of parenting.

How many did you make?
We printed 1000 – about 850 to mail and the rest to hand out during in person meetings as needed.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
We do a large mailing like this at the beginning of each year and probably 2-3 postcards or other mailings throughout the year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes, yes, yes! I don’t have an agent so I have to really fine tune my hustle in getting the word out. I am constantly trying to showcase my personal style and vision in a way that engages with clients. This helps them keep me in mind for projects that would be a good fit for my work.

This Week in Photography Books: Lawrence Schwartzwald

I made a few resolutions last month.

I give myself guidelines, each New Year, for things I’d like to work on. (Ways to better myself.)

This year, at the top of my list, I’m trying hard to talk less shit about other people.

That’s my number one goal.

I lost a few friends a couple of years ago, and am pretty sure that gossip-mongering played a role in it. (Not that I take the blame squarely, just that I own my part in it.)

On one hand, it makes me value my closest friends even more, as I know they’ll keep my confidence, but on a deeper level, I kept reliving the problem until I realized I needed to change.

For some reason, I didn’t understand that talking shit about people always gets back around to them. On steroids. (There’s nothing people love more than passing along a juicy story.)

More than that, though, it really is a karma thing.

Summoning that negative energy, and spreading it further, even if it feels funny, snarky or cathartic in the moment, has the habit of creating ripples of bad juju.

Coincidentally, last week, my Aikido Sensei told the class that he felt he had no enemies in life, and attributed it to the fact that he never talked shit about people.

He even used the same expression I do. (“Talking shit” is an American colloquialism that means speaking ill of people; going out of your way to denigrate them in front of others, at times for tactical purposes.)

Aikido, what I’m learning now, stresses ideas of reconciliation, rather than conflict. Even the fighting part is meant to minimize permanent damage to your opponent.

Wrist, hand and elbow locks can temporarily immobilize someone, but they will walk away unharmed, as long as they cooperate. (The techniques can be used to tear and break joints too.)

The truth is, you really never know when your enemy will become your friend, or your friend your enemy.

But if you keep your karma clean, good things will come your way.

In particular, I’m thinking about the story of Lawrence Schwartzwald, a photographer I met at a portfolio review a few years ago. We chatted briefly, but I didn’t see his work officially, and promised at a dinner party that if he followed up, I’d check out whatever he sent me.

Because it was the end of the festival, and I was drinking a glass of wine, chatting with a friend, I didn’t ask too many questions.

Therefore, I was pretty surprised when Lawrence emailed me in December of 2017 with a link to this Artnet news story about him winning a lawsuit against Gerhard Steidl.

THE Gerhard Steidl.

I was especially surprised, as it was right around the time that gushing New Yorker piece about Steidl came out, (which I referenced here in the column,) and this seemed like a wacky tale.

To synopsize, Lawrence Schwartzwald wanted compensation for a submission portfolio that Steidl lost, and accused the famed publisher of backing out of a deal to publish his book. Steidl responded that books take time, as it’s a creative process, and that the artist was fortunate to be chosen for a book in a highly competitive process.

The end result seemed to be that Steidl now owed him some money, but maintained they’d planned to publish his book all along.

(Awkward.)

So I was even more surprised, truly, genuinely surprised, when the next email I got from Lawrence Schwartzwald was one asking if I’d like a review copy of his upcoming book.

Published by Steidl.

(Cough, cough.) Say what now?

(Crickets.)

I’m rarely speechless.

But I swear, at first, I thought it was a joke. (As I did the other day on the ski lift, when my friend Derek started accosting the stranger sitting to my right, with whom we would be trapped for the next 5 minutes. Never a good time to pick a fight.)

Eventually, I opened the book today, in late February, 2019. So let’s figure out what all the fuss was about, shall we?

“The Art of Reading,” by Lawrence Schwartzwald, published by Steidl, is a book that seems straightforward, as it is mostly a series of documentary/fine art photos of people reading.

(Hence the title.)

But not all of them.

Some are photos of books.
Or photos of people with books who are not reading them.

It opens with a really cool statement by the artist, as he was college-aged in the early 70’s, and discovered photography through Diane Arbus, when he bought her book after she died.

That, and a Kertesz photobook of people reading, inspired him to pursue photography, and he went on to work as a freelance photojournalist for the New York Post for many years.

He also did some celebrity freelance photography, which I take to mean paparazzi pictures. (But I could be wrong.)

As everyone and everything are interconnected, (a theme in the blog so far this year,) I happened to notice a Facebook post Lawrence made the other day, saying that his book was selling well, and he hoped it might be reviewed before it sold out.

It wasn’t a direct appeal to me, and given that I’ve been spending a fraction of the time on social media I used to, (a 2018 resolution,) it was yet another coincidence.

A coincidence, like noticing Amy Winehouse at a diner, with her full bee-hive hairdo kicking, and snapping a quick shot. (Which became the cover and signature image.)

Or spotting Anne Hathaway eating breakfast one morning, or a slightly disheveled Carl Bernstein licking ice cream above a Post headline about the anthrax scare in 2001.

Given the acrimony behind the book’s beginnings, this one does feel a bit disjointed to me. Like it didn’t cohere properly, despite the excellent text-piece-opening, which primed my curiosity.

While there are strong pictures throughout, the image quality is not amazing overall, though of course many of the photographs are sweet, thoughtful, and generally likable.

No, I’m not sure that’s true.

At first, I didn’t like this book, and I put it down.

I walked away.

But with its pretty blue cover, it roped me in again, and this time, I began to think about all photographers, (out in the world,) who watch others.

Look for their stories.
Steal their moments.

Is creeping on a pretty actress THAT different from being out shooting street photography, watching a stranger sit on a stoop, reading quietly?

How many of us have done that before? (I know I have.)

What if it’s one of those classic, incredibly New York stoops in Soho, with just the right amount of stairs, and one of those huge glass window-doors above it.

You know what I’m talking about.

On Prince Street.
Somewhere near there.

You notice her.

She’s so quiet.

She has the Annie Hall hat on. And a man’s shirt. Or maybe it’s a light windbreaker? It’s hard to tell without staring outright.

Her shoes look sensible, and it’s possible she stepped outside her apartment to get some air with her book.

On her stoop.
Maybe she lives there?

But in 2015, when the photo was taken, rents in this neighborhood were already exorbitant. Can she afford it on her salary, with her sensible shoes?

Or was she out for a walk on a beautiful day, taking her book from stoop to park bench to stair railing, all day following the sun from spot to spot like a luxuriant cat.

You turn away, so as not to arouse her suspicion, and look into the store window before you. There’s a beautiful, no-doubt-expensive necklace in the window, but that’s not what draws your attention.

It’s her! There she is again.

In all her reflected glory.

You take your time now, secure in the knowledge no one will even recognize you’re framing up your composition, preparing to make this incredible photograph.

On page 23.

I love this one, because it’s perfect, but also because it evoked a strong memory for me.

I’m standing beside a light-rail stop in San Francisco, and I spot a charcoal-gray pearl necklace in the shop window next to me. I buy it for my girlfriend, wait to give it to her, and then am ultimately crestfallen when she hates it.

I was looking at this book, thinking about why it didn’t work for me, when all of a sudden, I was deep inside a memory.

Which led to another.
And another still.

(Big props to “The Art of Reading” for tunneling into my brain for a few minutes.)

Even now, as I flip back and forth, I notice some really excellent pictures, and some that seem like one-step-above snapshots.

There are a lot of down-on-their-luck folks, a lot of happy people immersed in their stories, and one photograph, (p 57) in which it appears that a tall man is going to murder an older couple with his book, so menacing is his physical stance relative to theirs.

So there you have it.

This book falls somewhere in the middle, for me, as I really like parts of it, and it certainly makes me think, but then, it also feels like it needed a much tighter edit, and a stronger reason for being. (Other than a court order.)

Sorry. That was a mean joke.

Forgive me.

Bottom Line: Street photos of people reading, with a fascinating backstory

To Purchase “The Art of Reading,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We currently have a several month backlog, and are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers so we may maintain a balanced program.

The Art of the Personal Project: Stephen Tayo

- - Personal Project, Working

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.  

Today’s featured artist:  Stephen Tayo

Featured on CNN 

Tayo, who grew up in Ikere-Ekiti, Nigeria, and now lives in Lagos, is not a twin himself, but he wanted to tell “a story that identifies my tribe.”

“It was really important for me to establish how twins are seen in our culture,” Tayo said in a phone interview. “Other tribes see twins as an abomination from the precolonial era onwards, but the Yoruba see them as a blessing.”

For Tayo, “Ibeji” signifies a more conceptual and multivalent approach to portraiture in comparison to the street style photography that has landed him on Vogue.com, Dazed Digital and Nataal. His subjects, friends or members of his wider community, were photographed at their homes or out on the streets of Lagos over a six-month period.


To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

Pricing & Negotiating: Portraits for a Fashion Accessory Brand

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: 6 subjects photographed against a solid background wearing fashion accessories                                                                                          

Licensing: Unlimited use of 12 images for 6 months

Photographer: Portraiture specialist on the East Coast

Client: A fashion accessory brand                                                                       

Here is the estimate:

Pricing and Negotiating Example of a Contract by Executive Producer Craig Oppenheimer at Wonderful Machine

Creative/Licensing Fees: The client asked the photographer to bid on a project for the brand’s new campaign, despite having little to no creative brief. The client saw a picture they liked in the photographer’s portfolio, and wanted to accomplish a similar aesthetic while integrating their product. We knew that they envisioned photographing 3 men and 3 women, all in a similar setup against a solid background, and they hoped to walk away with 2 images for each subject, totaling 12 final shots.

Initially, the usage was described to us as primarily being focused on social media, placement on their website, limited print advertisements and a mix of other guerilla style postings out-of-home, all for 6 months. When I discussed the usage with the client, it became clear that they wanted unlimited use during this time frame, despite the limited intended use they described. On one hand, the usage did seem quite limited, especially in duration, but on the other hand, the prominent brand would likely take out ads in high profile publications, and would likely pay a lot for their ad buy. Additionally, downward pressure was put on the fee due to the photographer’s limited experience working with such a brand, his eagerness to collaborate, the simple nature of the project, and the likelihood that only one or two images might see the light of day in advertisements, as most of the images would likely just end up on their website and on social media for a short duration.

After weighing all the factors, and based on the client’s intended use, I initially priced each of the first 6 images at $1,500 each, and then each of the additional 6 images (the second portrait for each subject) at $750 each, which brought me to $13,500.  My gut instinct based on other similar projects was that a fee between $10k-$15k would be appropriate for the day, and based on this experience and the eagerness of the photographer to get the job, we ended up going with $12,000, which broke down to $1,000/image if you look at it that way.

Travel and Pre-Production Day(s): The shoot would take place across the country, and the photographer would need a full travel day to fly there, and a full travel day to fly back. I also included one pre-production day for the photographer to book travel, wrangle crew and go through the paces with the client prior to the shoot. Typically I’d include a producer to help with these tasks and to handle the coordination of the entire project, but the client planned to coordinate many of the elements for this project, and the photographers was comfortable with just 1 day of prep to handle his tasks.

Assistant and Digital Tech Day(s): The photographer would be bringing an assistant with him, and hiring another one locally. I’d typically anticipate that the traveling assistant would be the “first assistant” and the local would most likely be the “second assistant”, but we flipped that in this case, as the photographer’s traveling assistant gave him a favorable rate for the three days out of town. We included one day for the digital tech, anticipating $500 for their day, plus another $500 for a basic workstation.

Hair/Makeup Stylist and Assistant Day(s): The client said that they had a few people in mind for hair/makeup styling who they planned to hire directly, but asked us to provide a sense of cost if they wanted the photographer to handle this. So, we therefore detailed TBD prices that didn’t impact the bottom line.

Studio Rental: This was based on feedback from a few local studios that we contacted to discuss rates and availabilities.

Equipment: While the photographer would be traveling with a bit of gear, he’d still need to rent a decent amount upon arrival, and this rate was primarily based on quotes received from the studios to provide such equipment.

Airfare, Lodging, Car Rental: I used Kayak.com to price appropriate travel expenses for the photographer and his assistant.

Parking, Per Diems, Misc.: This included $60/day/person as a per diem for the photographer and his assistant while traveling, plus $50/day in miscellaneous and unforeseen expenses.

First Edit for Client Review:  This covered the time it would take for the photographer to do an initial pass on the images, and provide the client with a gallery of images to consider

Retouching: This was based on a post processing rate of $150/hour, assuming two hours per image for each of the 12 images.

Insurance: We included this expense to help the photographer increase and maintain an appropriate policy.

Results: The client asked for two revisions. First, they decided to put hair/makeup responsibilities on the photographer, and asked that we send a revised estimate including those expenses, which was not a problem at all. Second, they asked if they could get 1 year usage for the 6 month price we quoted. I typically don’t recommend giving up something for nothing in return, but based on my previous experience with similar projects/budgets, and given how eager the photographer was to get the project, we decided to accept their offer. We submitted a revised estimate, and the photographer was awarded the project.

A few days later we were told that the client might want to add an additional day to the production, to capture a few additional shots with different talent, and with a slightly different background/setup. Specifically, they hoped to capture 3 subjects, with this additional day yielding 10 more images. Initially we were told that they only had $13,000 for this additional day, including all associated fees/expenses.

After calculating some rough numbers, I knew we weren’t going to be able to hit that, so I gave them a ring to negotiate. I learned that they could limit the usage to Web Collateral use and placement in up to 10 window displays of 3rd party retailers. This was a big jump down from the Unlimited use we were previously granting them. With this in mind, we submitted the following estimate:

Pricing and Negotiating Example of a Contract by Executive Producer Craig Oppenheimer at Wonderful Machine

We landed on $6,000 for this additional day/usage which was appropriate considering all of the factors. We also detailed the associated expenses with the additional day. We removed the first assistant (while essentially marking it as TBD) since the photographer didn’t feel they’d be needed on the second day consider the lighting setup would be similar to the first day, and his second assistant and tech could lend a hand as a cost savings measure. We increased equipment a bit for this additional day to account for a specific background the client wanted to procure, and included appropriate travel expenses in addition to more post processing time.

The overage for the additional day was approved, and the photographer quickly launched into pre-production to line everything up.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – The Unseasonal: Ger Ger

- - The Daily Edit

The Unseasonal

Editor in Chief and Creative Director: Ger Ger

Heidi: Is this your first project where you’re the EIC? I know you’ve had long, successful career as a creative director/ photographer.
Ger: My career as an artist started early as a teenager and over the decades I’ve found myself in many different roles, crossing various disciplines and mediums. Today I look at an unusually extensive set of skills and experiences even from times before I segued into working almost solely as a creative director and photographer in the fields of fashion, photojournalism, celebrity culture and conceptual art. For The Unseasonal all of that becomes one and it can be seen as a  proof that being a jack of several trades can sometimes create unusual opportunities and outcomes. I believe that only with me serving in multiple roles, I could make this magazine what it is today. The Unseasonal is a very intimate and uniquely homogeneous publication with one strong unified vision behind it. So I do find myself the first time also in the role of the editor-in-chief but I look at it more as a necessity than a choice. To me the written word has to be in symbiosis with the imagery and choices of angles, style and topics are following similar rules. The result is an overall feeling with some depth and integrity that readers can sense, that is difficult to put into words but many people seem to resonate with.

What are the differences between those roles?
In reality I’m the photo director as well but for The Unseasonal photography is so much in the DNA that a mention in the masthead becomes irrelevant. So since, I find myself in the main roles as the editor-in-chief and the creative director I try to disregard the lines in a similar way I learned to dismantle the boundaries of different mediums. For a while I was lecturing on what I call a universal artistic language. Mediums can be interchangeable and without boundaries. The very same aesthetic of a photograph for instance can be expressed in acoustic work alike. Grain becomes hiss, fog static noise and so on. There is no question that for big corporations and most magazines separating demanding top positions make a lot of sense. But with my diverse background I also saw the advantage in doing things differently. Differences between my roles become indistinct and sometimes things become a bit autocratic or autobiographic, then again very open and collaborative. The overall atmosphere of the outcome is what really counts. I look on every issue of The Unseasonal as a mix tape and it all needs to start in my gut or my heart. It is a very personal, artistic approach with a fantastic team behind it. This framework makes it possible to transport an absolute pure vision without any compromises or battles of egos. It is a very professional, quiet and peaceful way of working.

How did this idea come about? The longer I had been working for many of the most renowned magazines in the world — including Vogue, L’Officiel, and Interview — the more I felt there was also room for something else. For something of a different curation, of another voice, for a more timeless approach, and for treating fashion more as a feeling, artistic form of expression, and way of living. I wanted to put photography on a center stage, offer more room to breathe, give editorial projects more time, and make a magazine that can be a common denominator for many different types and classes of people. I also believed in a magazine that can be truly global, feels like a light summer breeze and at the same time is deep and substantial — something you want to bring on a vacation or that accompanies you for a long time. Something of a certain value that is between a collectible item, a periodical and a book.

Why did you feel the need launch this magazine?
With what is going on in the world today, I felt the urge to provide people with the inspiration and lightness for making the world a better place.I also felt it was time for a new over-spanning genre of a magazine that adapts to the change in seasons – both in fashion and the world — and counteracts fast fashion and meaningless social media madness with timeless aesthetics and deep storytelling. I was dreaming of a magazine about passion that unifies fashion, art, travel, and the human condition. A magazine of a rare artistic quality that represents the feeling of a getaway, of slowing down, of exotic places, escapism, breathtaking dreams, and lightness of being, all with elements from the past, the present, and the future. With job and budget cuts in publishing left and right I was even more so dreaming about a magazine that puts quality and content first again.

What do you feel is the problem if any with existing publications?
With the rise of digital and Instagram the existing editorial market imploded but the number of independent magazines exploded. Together with people getting increasingly tired of globalization, capitalism, impersonal corporate structures and digital technologies, there was a growing demand for something different, more personal, tangible, and substantial but market surveys do not seem to identify the gaps. So budgets for editorial projects have been continuously decreasing, resulting in a decline in quality and no willingness to take risks. Many established magazines lost their unique selling proposition and slipped into irrelevance. I think people more and more gave up on the publishing industry since for a while it seemed there were not many revolutionary ideas left to try for how a magazine in today’s world can feel and be put together. There is room for much more than doing just another magazine. But people need to step back, observe, take risks again and adapt to the present and the future. Also to how social media and new technologies changed our behaviors but this does neither mean that all will be digital nor  that print always needs to look the same. I see it as a great opportunity. It’s the right time for new structures and something warm, beautiful and meaningful.

Do you have an online component to this?
Yes. Although print is absolutely essential for The Unseasonal, we strongly believe that online is an important part as well. Just like the print magazine, the website is evolving and there are many plans and ideas for it. Both components have different strength, so we do not try to blindly mirror content but rather embrace each medium’s strengths. Also — some readers generally do not buy magazines, others do not read much online. And then there is a group of people who do both. With online we can put out things faster and with print we can take more time.

If I someone wanted to contribute, how do they get involved?
We usually do not accept submissions but do appreciate and try to respond to every email, letter or message we receive. Whenever possible I take the time myself to look through the work and read the pitches. I do value the potential or a steady, unique voice in someone’s work above an established but mainstream portfolio.